As the annual summer exodus of expats preparing to repatriate to their home countries begins, the British Embassy in Doha has drawn up a list of essential administrative things to do to ensure a smooth exit.
Leaving Qatar for good entails filling out a lot of paperwork, regarding home rentals, school enrollments, bank accounts and other factors.
The “Checking Out” campaign includes a list of important reminders of matters that require attention to avoid clashing with the authorities at the last minute.
— UK in Qatar 🇬🇧🇶🇦 (@ukinqatar) May 13, 2015
Published online and aimed to assist some of the 20,000 Britons living in Qatar, much of the advice included also applies to residents of other nationalities who are leaving the country.
The advice echoes a similar social media campaign launched earlier this month by the British mission in Abu Dhabi, which tweeted highlights from its checklist over the course of a week.
Your contract is ending? You will need to give your passport temporarily to your employer to cancel your residence visa. #ConsularUKUAE
— UKinUAE 🇬🇧🇦🇪 (@ukinuae) May 4, 2015
The checklist includes tips on closing out bank accounts, credit cards and loans; terminating employment and sorting visas, finishing accommodation contracts; and releasing oneself from liabilities like cars and other possessions.
It reminds residents that all debts have to be cleared before leaving Qatar, and that non-payment of a debt is a criminal offense that could result in a prison sentence.
The embassy also warns that even if residents with outstanding debts manage to leave, they risk being arrested if they try to return to Qatar – even if they are just transiting through Hamad International Airport (HIA).
Forward planning appears to be key, as the paperwork involved in canceling bank accounts and credit cards can be time-consuming. The embassy advises starting the process at least two months before leaving the country.
It added that all credit cards and loans should be fully paid off and bank accounts emptied. Confirmation of these should be sought from the relevant banks.
A bank clearance letter is also required from employers, and a forwarding address should be left for future correspondence.
It advises those whose contract is ending to ensure they hand over their passport to their employer so they can cancel the residence permit.
“Failure to do so could delay your departure or mean you are marked on the immigration system as an absconder,” the embassy said.
It also reminded residents to:
- Request an end-of-service gratuity payout statement and payment from your employer, warning that the embassy does not mediate in employment disputes;
- Return medical cards;
- Give notice to your landlord in accordance with the conditions of your lease;
- Collect deposits from utilities, phone and internet companies and cancel all accounts;
- Sell any cars before leaving, or arrange through a lawyer for a friend to have power of attorney to do this on your behalf;
- Prepare to sell or ship your belongings, noting that it can take at least six weeks for shipments to travel from Qatar to the UK;
- Give notice to children’s schools, in accordance with their leaving policies. Arrange for the necessary transfer letters or certificates, reports and collect any deposits paid;
- Secure a police clearance certificate if your future employer requires one. This can be arranged from CEID on Salwa Road. This can also be arranged through the Qatar Embassy in London, but in this case can take up to three months; and
- Make sure that if you are traveling with a pet, you have completed all the necessary paperwork in advance. Details on the required documents for returning to the UK can be found at the British government’s website here.
What tips would you give to residents who are about to move out of Qatar? Thoughts?